Just as you keep track of your child’s physical health – from his hair down to his toenails – you also want to monitor his dental health. Oral health is tied to the overall health of your child so taking care of his teeth even during his early years is highly important.
Why does dental care in kids matter?
Many parents think that it’s perfectly okay for toddlers to skip dental care routine because their teeth will fall out anyway. That’s true. But it is also important for your child to have a healthy mouth even before those permanent teeth arrive. Also, poor oral hygiene can lead to problems that your little one simply cannot bear, such as toothaches, mouth sores, gum disease, and inflammation. All these make sleeping and eating difficult, and are often associated with fever.
Taking your child to the dentist before his first year or as soon as his first tooth erupts is crucial to dental care. If your child happens to have tooth decay already, the more he needs to see a dental professional. Dental procedures for children are different from those provided to adult patients because their gums and teeth are still very sensitive. In clinics, high-level disinfection of dental instruments is crucial to prevent infections that children may not be able to handle very well. More advanced yet non-invasive equipment such as ultrasonography is also used with clear ultrasound gel to diagnose more serious oral health problems in children, like tongue carcinomas and periapical lesions.
It is not always possible to visit a good dentist who uses high level disinfected supplies. That is why forming good dental care habits in children is something every parent should prioritize.
Dental Care Habits at Home
Helping your kids establish a good dental care routine should not be difficult. The trick is to make it fun and engaging! Here’s how:
- Educate them about the importance of oral care. Kids need to know why they should take care of their teeth in the first place so they make conscious efforts to practice proper dental hygiene. Use visuals (photos, video clips, and cards) to give them a basic understanding of oral care.
- Get them a nice dental kit. Have them choose their own toothbrush. It can be one that has their favorite character on the design or their favorite color. Your kids will be happily waiting for brushing time. Also, choose a toothpaste that’s appropriate for their age. Children’s mouths are more sensitive than adults. Have them choose the toothpaste flavor they enjoy.
- Have them floss at least once a day. Flossing helps remove plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Routine is everything. Designate a time for brushing and flossing. Brush their teeth twice a day when they’re still babies and have them brush their own when they get a little older.
- Give them rewards. Yes, kids love rewards. A new toy or a trip to the park if they end the week without skipping their brushing routine. This makes it easier for children to associate dental care with fun. When they grow much older, they’ll do it out of habit, not just for rewards anymore.
Good dental health requires more than brushing and flossing. It is important to feed your child with proper nutrition so his teeth grow strong even before they come out.
- Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride. Fluoride naturally occurs in water sources (such as the water we drink) but only in very small amounts. To ensure that your child is getting enough of this essential element, consider giving him a fluoride rinse or a supplement.
- Watch his diet. Food has a huge impact on your child’s oral health. Load his diet with healthy produce, such as fruits and vegetables. Apples, eggs, yogurt, cheese, celery, and carrots, as well as green leafy vegetables, are especially beneficial to your child’s dental health. Limit his intake of sugary drinks and treats, chewy candy, chips, bread, and pasta.
- Take your child to the dentist every six months.
Proper dental care should start at home. Hopefully, with these tips, you can help your child establish habits that will protect and nourish his overall oral health.